It was up close and personal time on “Dancing with the Stars” week 3 – in which the celebrities would offer their fans a personal story interpreted through dance. And in season 14’s version of the theme, the stars were to pick a memorable year of their lives to talk and dance about. Sadly, with the loss of Martina Navratilovaon last week’s elimination show, we weren’t able to hear how the tennis champ beat breast cancer. But with a Cuban refugee and twice-divorced actress amongst the cast, there were lots of possibilities!
Whose storylines would tug hearts — and whose would be just TMI?! Read on….
The traditional parade of stars came down the stairs (AKA the parade of cleavage) and what tattoos did Donald Driver have on his chest? Didn’t notice that before! Gladys Knight didn’t show much cleavage, unlike the others. Host Tom Bergeron said we needed Kleenex for this night. Oh, good!
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya: Samba
Jack chose the year 2011 for his tell all because that was when he was about ready to go onstage for a concert — and a girl grabbed him and said, “I’m your daughter.” Wow, if that isn’t a soap opera twist, I don’t know what is! His girl Kerry came on the show and said Jack, her birth father, took her in and made her a part of his family (which includes two young sons, born much later than Kerry). The whole thing has been a huge blessing for Jack. So of course Jack and Anna would dance as tribute to his daughter. Jack opened the number playing a guitar on top on the judges’ table and blowing kisses to the audience (or was it to his daughter?). Anna’s samba tailpiece looked amazing and Jack swiveled his hips like a pop star in a brown and orange and gold pant suit number (are those his favorite colors? He’s worn them before!). They ended the number on top of the judges’ table again and then the soap star hugged his daughter in the audience. Judge Len Goodman liked his hip rhythm and declared it his best dance. Bruno Tonioli said he really go the party started and Carrie Ann said she’d like to see more of Jack. The emotion paid off for the actor! Jack got all choked up backstage when Brooke Burke asked about his daughter. Big score for Jack!
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: Rumba
Maria’s year was 1988, when she was 10 years old and her Greek parents were janitors and worked their butts off to keep everyone fed. They couldn’t afford child care, so Maria went to work with her folks. They would be dancing to Madonna’s Material Girl because she listened to the pop tune while her folks cleaned nightclubs in Boston. Maria and Derek looked very graceful under the low yellow light and he kissed Maria as she lay on the floor during the most eye-opening part of the dance. Sexy, but not in a crude way – and now I suppose everyone will be asking the dance partners if they’re a couple in real life, too (though I think, I think, Maria has a boyfriend). It was a slow, weird version of Material Girl—I didn’t really recognize the song. But what a rumba! It looked like the most romantic dance this season, for sure. The talk hostess even got a little applause in the press room for her grace and style. Bruno said he felt it — but mockingly criticized Derek for being a naughty boy. Carrie Ann got all giddy and said it was an expression of desire and nothing ever stopped the whole way. Len described it as a mix of the ballroom and the bedroom and praised their technique. What it had to do with Maria’s Greek immigrant parents, I don’t know, but it didn’t even matter. Brooke asked Derek backstage if her really kissed Maria but didn’t give him a chance to answer the question, but it sure looked like a kiss to me. Once the judges gave out their great scores, we saw Maria wrestling, for some reason.
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus: Foxtrot
1957 was the most memorable year for Gladys because it was the time of her very first tour — with the Pips! (where are THEY now?). She was just a kid learning from legendary Sam Cooke back then,touring with the master and being taught about stage presence. She would dance to the Sam Cooke “Cupid” song in tribute to her late friend. The routine began with Tristan knocking on a door and letting Gladys come out and begin their dance. It looked very slow to me, maybe too slow, like she was tentative (or had been rehearsing too much and was too stiff?). Gladys seemed to be enjoying herself and completing all the moves, however. Tristan left her back at her door with a kiss on the hand to end it. The dance was sweet, but it didn’t like they did enough to get high scores. Carrie Ann saw improvement in her frame and thought the whole number sensous and soulful. Her buddy Len realized the amount of work she’d put into it (uh oh, I hear him saying in his head, BUT) while Bruno talked about her grace and finesse. She’s a wonderful woman, but I think this one could put her in jeopardy if everyone else is really good tonight. Oops, I’m wrong. Judges awarded her high scores! I thought that was too high and gave them no room for going higher later.
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: Samba
Roshon will be dancing to a Jackson Five song and 1996 was when she first saw Michael Jackson and he was his idol. Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson—my God, since Jackson died, he’s everyone’s favorite and that’s all we hear now, huh? Anyway, MJ’s choreographer, Travis Payne, visited the couple to give them some pointers on how to dance like the King of Pop–but with a samba twist. To start the dance, Roshon ran down the stairs in his MJ brown vest and Afro and whirled around Chelsie really fast like he was meant to do this. The young actor was so quick and his side-by-side moves with Chelsie were worthy of a professional. To be “authentic” as Michael, he even did the crotch grab! Hey, this was supposed to be the earlier, ‘70s, G-rated Michael, so what gives? Roshon and Chelsie ended the dance a little after the last song beat, but Len chimed in right away and said he liked the flair. Still, Len wanted a little more traditional samba. Judge Bruno said MJ would love it, and so did he (how would Bruno know? Taking liberties with the dead here). “I thought I was watching him,” Bruno raved. Carrie Ann was the only one who threw a wet blanket on it, saying it wasn’t the “Shake it Up” star’s best dance. Sure enough, the scores were high–and they had to score him over Gladys.
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: Rumba
Gavin went to a Billy Joel concert when he was young and in 1998, he moved to New York to pursue music, just like his idol. He told Karina he wanted to dance to Billy’s “New York State of Mind.” The singer talked about how supportive his family was in letting him pursue his show business dream so he’d be dancing on their behalf. Hey, we just heard this song on this season’s “American Idol!” The couple started at the piano then moved away from it with a long, slow, sexy dip. It’s going to be a slow dance night on “Idol,” whoops, “DWTS,” this week. Gavin looked awkward walking backwards and dragging Karina on her toe on the floor, but the rest of the dance was fairly solid, if not spectacular. The reporters backstage applauded as he wiped away tears at the end. Bruno said he was no longer a stiff dancer (really? Did I see the same dance? Oh, there I go being mean on sob story night. Sorry). Carrie Ann mentioned her heart was fluttering because it was so sexy and tender. Len saw good hips, more musicality, and progression from the previous two weeks. Backstage, in the kiss and cry, Gavin did indeed, kiss and cry. In fact, he couldn’t speak he got so choked up and the ABC cameraman cut to his father in the audience. Aww. The score was high, but not as high as one expected from the gushing comments.
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: Waltz
The singer is the front runner on DWTS. What was her personal story? In 1996, she found out her father had lung cancer. Katherine was taken out of school to go say goodbye to her dad, who was in hospice care. The soprano vowed to dance on TV for her beloved father and hoped she’d make him proud. Again, another slow song and as in week one, she looked graceful and gorgeous, like a beauty pageant winner celebrating after the contest with Mark playing her boyfriend . Katherine’s arm movements couldn’t have been more exquisite and she was crying in Mark’s arms at the end. She also made Carrie Ann cry as she gave her praise. Len quibbled that there wasn’t enough dancing in ballroom hold – keeping it real and saying Mark was to blame for that. But Bruno gave it a quick rave, “sensational!” She got two 10s, the first of the season!
Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy: Rumba
The View queen recalled the year that her son Jeffery was born at just 25 weeks, with severe brain bleeding and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Sheri remembered thinking, “I will never smile again.” It was really rough for the funny lady, but she told viewers her son doesn’t have CP after all and she’s so thankful. She called Jeff her miracle baby as he joined her at rehearsal and said she’ll dance to show him how much she loves him. It has truly been a tear-jerking night so far. It felt mean-spirited to criticize anyone! Dancing the rumba, Val and Sherri started with an overhead shot and what sounded like a heart beating: thumpa thumpa. Val dragged Sheri dramatically across the floor and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry on that one. But Sheri really acted the dance well and ended by looking heavenward with a rapt expression behind the big eyelashes–and you had to laugh fondly when she approached her cute son in the audience. Len appreciated the emotion and thought she did great while Bruno said “mama can move!” Carrie Ann’s verdict was that she was true to herself and her lines were the best the judge had seen that night. Brooke stated the obvious, that it had been an emotional night and there was more emotion backstage! The judges were scoring high tonight, probably because the celebs were in tears already—no point in making things worse.
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Jive
In 2010, Melissa broke her back while doing Little House on the Prairie: The Musical and it was painful to the TV icon. But she was all better, thanks, and ready to get her feelings out through the dance. The jive is supposed to be fast but the whole start of the dance was really slow. Then, finally, the quick stuff kicked in. Mel just looked out of her element in the fast part—she was concentrating too much on the steps and the boob action was frankly embarrassing. That was all I was looking at, wondering if she’d have a wardrobe malfunction bouncing up and down. Bruno said Melissa was on a mission—on a mission to what, though, was my question? Carrie Ann said she loved it. What was happening tonight? Len said she had finally come into the competition. Backstage, we did see Maks’ rock hard abs, so that was a huge plus. The score was too high, though. Worst of the night so far to me. Half Pint was half baked.
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: Rumba
Steve Urkel wanted to show some sexiness and he recalled playing a sexy character on TV. What year was that? He didn’t say. Jaleel looked very Saturday Night Fever (and tall) in his white suit. He led Kym through the moves very lanconically, like he wasn’t even trying to bend, and he wasn’t smiling after he ended the dance. “Bye, bye, Urkel,” Carrie Ann said. Len thought it was very competent but thought he was stiff in the arms. Bruno thought he was Mr. Smooth. Backstage, Jaleel said Kym had been strong for him all week and he broke down in sobs about his kids in the audience and said he loved entertaining people. But was it REALLY about all the bad press Jaleel had been getting all week. Hmm. Anyway, it was one of the biggest mini-meltdowns ever on the show, so yay.
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: Salsa
1995 was the year the hunk came to the U.S., ladies! It was eight people living in the same house in Cuba and William recalled life was really tough. His accent was so thick, though, that I couldn’t understand everything he was saying—not good for story week. But did it really matter, the way he looked? I gathered that he was happy to be in America. He started the dance banging on a drum and showed his chest with his shirt all the way open in an obvious bid for votes this week. The two of them looked like they were at a salsa club, very fast, furious and sexy but the half-naked move was distracting—I couldn’t look at his footwork at all. He spun Cheryl like no one has been spun this week, however and guided her under his legs again. William inspired the usual frenzied cheers from his fan posse, and Len said called the dance “free willy.” Ugh. Bruno, having had his line stolen by Len, just shook William’s hand (why is his last name Levy, by the way? Is he 100 percent Latin?) and shouted it was AMAZING! Carrie Ann wanted to go to Cuba because it was so ridiculously hot! He was very happy afterwards and mumbling about good memories about his life and whatever. The hottie got a great score, natch.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: Rumba
The Super Bowl champ was going to be dancing in tribute to his best friend who passed away in 2010. He died in Donald’s arms and the normally fun-loving football player was in tears remembering the moment. I was looking forward to this dance as Donald seemed very serious about it in rehearsal and it would end the show. Donald started the dance by holding Peta in his arms (like his friend? Sad) and leading her through the mist on the floor with a lot of heart. It looked like he might have gone off the beat and was being a little too aggressive on the floor but it did seem to tell the story. A little applause in the press room but it wasn’t unanimous. Donald bit his lip hard after the dance, trying not to get choked up but Carrie Ann did it for him. She dissed him mildly for a turned in toe but loved it. Len called him hunky dunky but full of emotion (what was with Len tonight?). Meanwhile, Bruno had the last word: “you push yourself to the limit.” All in all, a great night of dancing for “DWTS” with the floor soaked in tears.